Baptism at St John of Chicago Orthodox Church
Under usual circumstances, a child is baptized at about 40 days old, in keeping with the biblical symbolism of the number 40. Age is not a barrier to baptism, however, and children may be baptized at a younger or older age. It is far easier, and much less traumatic, to baptize a child under six months of age than an older child! Adults are usually baptized after a program of instruction in the Orthodox faith. For a child to be baptized at St John both legal parents must give full and express consent to the baptism.
Most baptisms are done on Saturdays, so that the child may be brought to communion the next day, on Sunday. A baptism may take place on the day before a special feast marked by a liturgy. Sometimes a baptism may be done before liturgy on Sunday, or before a weekday festal liturgy. In all of the above, the important connection between baptism and communion is meant to be stressed. The date must be confirmed by the Priest.
A sponsor of the same gender is required, and must be an Orthodox Christian in good standing and a regular communicant in an Orthodox parish. The sponsor is often referred to as a godparent. There may be two godparents, a godfather and a godmother. Before choosing a sponsor, parents ought to read the Baptismal service very carefully and understand that the sponsor will be making an explicit confession of his or her personal, Orthodox Christian faith before God and the Church. This is not something to take lightly. A non-Orthodox Christian may have an honorary role in the baptism, but this must be discussed with the priest performing the baptism before an invitation is issued.
The parents and sponsors should discuss how they will go about obtaining baptismal cross and white garment with which the child will be clothed immediately after the baptism. Often the sponsors provide these. In addition to the cross and white garment, a large white towel or two will be needed. A baptismal candle may be obtained at the back of the church.
The Orthodox Church views baptism as a Mystery or Sacrament of the Church. Non-Orthodox guests at a baptism should be reminded in advance that the Church is a sacred place. There should be no eating or drinking, gum chewing, or men wearing hats. We expect people to dress modestly. Please make sure that someone will be responsible for cleaning up afterwards.
FOUR WEEKS BEFORE BAPTISM
Schedule a date after talking with the priest. Submit the attached Record of Baptism and Chrismation form to the priest.
ONE WEEK BEFORE BAPTISM
Contact the priest to confirm everything. Sponsor should go to confession and communion close to the time of the baptism.
DAY OF BAPTISM
For an infant: While at home, dress the child in a comfortable, easy to remove garment. You will need: at least one large bath towel, a baptismal cross, a new white baptismal garment.
For an adult: The priest will have advised you about the best way to dress for your baptism. In addition you will need an adult equivalent of the new white baptismal garment, two or more large towels, a baptismal cross.